Massachusetts doomers Black Pyramid meet at the point of the road whereby the venerated riffs of Sleep cross paths with the beastly aesthetic that has come to replace the boogie vans and pot references as the go-to subject matter for modern stoner metal. Guitarist/vocalist Andy Beresky has a voice caught between a gruff and clean delivery that sounds like it’s coming right out of the side of his mouth (whether it is or not, I have no idea, but that’s what it sounds like) and as he commences laying out his plot to “kill the Sagittarius” on “Visions of Gehenna” — track two on his band’s self-titled MeteorCity debut following the intro “…And the Gods Made War” — the mission of heralding the genre’s past while marching it into the future is clear. Black Pyramid is next gen stoner. Whatever wave we’re up to now. I can’t keep count.
The swaying-ship (or swinging beer stein, if you prefer) rhythm of “Mirror Messiah” plays a big part in the catchiness of the song, marked by drummer Clay Neely‘s tight but not patently technical style. Unlike many percussionists of the post-Brann Dailor era, Neely doesn’t overdo it and is able to sit back and ride the groove, bringing capable bassist Gein along in good measure. Unlike their most obvious comparison point — Sleep – Black Pyramid sound cohesive and not loose or overtly jammy. Beresky isn’t necessarily a shredder when it comes to leads, but on “Mirror Messiah” he gives a good showing, and the ending segment of the song benefits strongly from his memorable lead lines.
As Black Pyramid unfolds, the band reveals an affection for long instrumental passages — not uncommon for acts in which each member plays an instrument. “No Life King,” another strong piece, shorter and somewhat more straightforwardly driven drum-wise, opens up at two minutes and gives room only for a brief vocal return at the end. Instrumental interlude “Celephais” introduces acoustic guitars which will pop up again later to great effect, and serves well to break up the proceedings and separate sides A and B of the album. Beresky brings The Heavy almost immediately back into play on “Twilight Grave,” however, setting a classically doom tone for the closing trio of tracks, all of which stand tall above seven minutes. The Obsessed has been mentioned as a comparison point, and I agree.
That older school fetish makes itself most apparent, however, on “The Worm Ouroboros,” which nods at Pentagram en route to a strong repurposing of the central riff of Black Sabbath‘s “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” and later, the closing one of “War Pigs.” Despite the transparency of these influences, holding the copping of Sabbath riffs against a doom band is like holding breathing underwater against a fish. That’s just the way it goes, and with another short solo, Beresky helps put an individual stamp on the song, leading into the more complex run of “The Cauldron Born,” with an early High on Fire-type vocal and general progression. At its end, the track gives itself over to doom crashes, but is generally among the fastest and most active on Black Pyramid, showing some band dynamics and that there’s more to them than just contented stoner mediocrity. Though, admittedly, that’s well established by then.
Closer “Wintermute” employs a more outright contemptuous lyrical approach — see the line, “I will hate you all until the stars decay” — that couples unexpectedly well with the aforementioned return of the acoustic guitar. They make the most of the album’s final moments and hone another song more squarely their own — another unique lead line from Beresky at 5:30 in a desert-esque tone — leaving the audience with the thought of and expectation for greater things to come. Still, for the stable and (some say) growing market for stoner metal, Black Pyramid offers plenty in realms both familiar and only vaguely previously explored. This is the path stoner metal is treading in 2009, and Black Pyramid leave some heavy footprints with this label debut.
Tags: Black Pyramid, Massachusetts, MeteorCity, Stoner doom